DCN ARCHIVES

April 25, 2012

Haiti trade school rebuild moves forward

Steady progress is being made on the Ecole Lakay trade school rebuild the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has tackled in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

“We have made a fair amount of headway and we still have a lot of work to do,” reported Paul Charette, CCA construction advisor on the project.

“We looked for a project that was ideal for our industry and a trade school was an ideal fit. We did not choose École Lakay lightly nor did we expect this project would be a walk in the park.”

Charette provided an update on the rebuild project at CCA’s recent annual conference in Savannah, Ga.

It has been two years since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked the Caribbean island nation and destroyed the school located in Le Soleil, Haiti.

In late 2010, the CCA, L’Association de la construction du Quebec (ACQ) and the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) teamed up to rebuild the school.

Charette was last in Haiti in September 2011 and said that unless you are on the ground, you cannot appreciate the conditions Haitians are still living in due to the damage caused by the earthquake.

The scope of the Haiti project originally was to rebuild the one-storey school, but that has changed significantly.

The logistics of constructing the school were explored and further consultation was held with Haitian project partners, including the Rinaldi Foundation and the Salesian Order/ Mission, the school’s owners and management.

A new plan called for the school to be relocated to an adjacent site and to be larger in order to serve 150 students instead of 80.

Originally the project was to be a 950-square-metre school rebuild and now it is a 2,200- square-metre complex.

“The principle is to build a school which is structurally sound and can withstand another tremor, has clear Canadian content and is a training facility which will provide young Haitians hope and qualified skilled tradespersons,” said Charette.

“Also, we want to satisfy donors that due diligence and duty of care is exercised throughout the project.”

By March 2011, the CCA and its partners had raised $634,000 to meet their original goal for the project, but its re-scoping meant more funds were needed to complete the project.

The initiative now has $750,000 in the bank and after a recent campaign for further funds and in-kind donations those donations and commitments have resulted in just more than $900,000 in funding.

Charette estimated that the final cost to build the school will be just less than $1.5 million.

Among the key changes to the school is a departure from building it using concrete masonry block and instead using structural steel.

“The masonry was difficult to find locally,” explained Charette. “All in all, we will have a much better structure, which will be able to withstand another earthquake. All structural steel has been designed to seismic standards in Canada.”

Donations in-kind have been a key element of the recent search for funding.

“I have been terribly impressed with our entire industry,” noted Charette.

The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) has committed to supplying and fabricating 70 tonnes of structural steel, valued at over $500,000, for the project.

Among the other donations were items such as interior structural studs from interior systems contractors, electrical drawing and specifications provided pro bono by the MMM Group and mechanical drawings and specifications for the school have been supplied by Rambow Mechanical Ltd.

Charette hoped to have a final commitment from the CISC by the end of April and would like to get on the ground and building in Haiti two to three months after that.

He said the CCA’s skills, due diligence and perseverance will result in a school that our industry can be really proud of in the coming years.

To learn more about the École Lakay school rebuild project in Haiti or to donate visit www.cca-acc.com.

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